William S. Benson
William Shepherd Benson (25 September 1855 – 20 May 1932) was an Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and the first Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

 (CNO), holding the post throughout World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...



Born in Bibb County, Georgia
Bibb County, Georgia
Bibb County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population was 153,887. The 2007 Census Estimate shows a population of 154,709...

, Benson graduated from the United States Naval Academy
United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Maryland, United States...

 in 1877. His early years of sea duty included cruise around the World in Dolphin
USS Dolphin (PG-24)
USS Dolphin —a gunboat/dispatch vessel—was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the dolphin. Dolphins keel was laid down by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania. She was launched on 12 April 1884, with Captain George Dewey in command, and commissioned on 8 December 1885...

 during the 1880s. He was also active in coast survey and hydrographic duties, was an instructor at the Naval Academy, commanded the cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

 Albany (CL-23)
USS Albany (CL-23)
The third USS Albany was a United States Navy protected cruiser. She was originally laid down for the Brazilian Navy as Almirante Abreu, but was purchased by the United States Navy on 16 March 1898 to prevent her being acquired by the Spanish Navy during the Spanish-American War and renamed...

 and served as a flag aide and fleet chief of staff, in addition to other assignments.

In 1911, Captain Benson became the first Commanding Officer of the battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

 Utah (BB-31)
USS Utah (BB-31)
USS Utah was a battleship that was attacked and sunk in Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. A Florida-class battleship, she was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the U.S. state of Utah...

. He was Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1913-15.

Chief of Naval Operations

In 1915 he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral
Rear admiral (United States)
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. The uniformed services of the United States are unique in having two grades of rear admirals.- Rear admiral :...

 and became the Navy's first Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), functionally replacing Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske
Bradley Fiske
Rear Admiral Bradley Allen Fiske was an officer in the United States Navy who was noted as a technical innovator. During his long career, Fiske invented more than a hundred and thirty electrical and mechanical devices, with both Naval and civilian uses, and wrote extensively on technical and...

, the last Aide for Naval Operations.

Benson was heavily involved in defining the functions of the new CNO position and strengthening the Navy during a period marked by internal Navy Department tensions, U.S. interventions in the Caribbean and Central America, and the world war
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Promoted to the rank of Admiral in 1916, his responsibilities greatly expanded when the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 entered the First World War in April 1917. Over the next year and a half, he oversaw a huge expansion of the Navy, the extension of its operations to European waters and the transportation of the Army's American Expeditionary Forces to [France. After the November 1918 Armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

, he was an active participant in the lengthy peace negotiations held in France.


In World War I the Navy explored aviation, both land-based and carrier based. However the Navy nearly abolished aviation in 1919 when Benson could not "conceive of any use the fleet will ever have for aviation" and he secretly tried to abolish the Navy's Aviation Division. However Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 reversed the decision because he believed aviation might someday be "the principal factor" at sea with missions to bomb enemy warships, scout enemy fleets, map mine fields, and escort convoys. Grudgingly allowing it a minor mission, the Navy slowly built up its aviation.


Benson retired from the Naval service in September 1919. Over the next decade, he was active in the leadership of the U.S. Shipping Board
United States Shipping Board
The United States Shipping Board was established as an emergency agency by the Shipping Act , 7 September 1916. It was formally organized 30 January 1917. It was sometimes referred to as the War Shipping Board.http://www.gwpda.org/wwi-www/Hurley/bridgeTC.htm | The Bridge To France by Edward N....

. Admiral William S. Benson died in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

His mother, Catherine Brewer Benson
Catherine Brewer Benson
Catherine Elizabeth Benson, née Brewer was the first woman to earn a college bachelor's degree.Catherine Elizabeth Brewer was born on January 24, 1822 in Augusta, Georgia...

, was the first woman to receive a degree from a chartered college, Georgia Female College (now Wesleyan College
Wesleyan College
Wesleyan College is a private, liberal arts women's college located in Macon, Georgia, United States.-History:The school was chartered on December 23, 1836 as the Georgia Female College, and opened its doors to students on January 7, 1839. The school was renamed Wesleyan Female College in 1843...



USS Benson (DD-421)
USS Benson (DD-421)
USS Benson was the lead ship of her class of destroyers in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for Admiral William S. Benson ....

 and USS Admiral W. S. Benson (AP-120)
USS Admiral W. S. Benson (AP-120)
The unnamed transport, AP-120, was laid down on 10 December 1942 at Alameda, California by the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipbuilding Corp., under a Maritime Commission contract ; named Admiral W. S. Benson on 20 October 1943; launched on 22 November 1943; sponsored by Miss Dorothy Lucille Benson,...

 were named in his honor.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.